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Cinder (book)

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Cinder is the first volume in The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. The volume features Linh Cinder (loosely based on the fairy tale Cinderella by the Brothers Grimm {Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm}) and takes place in New Beijing, Eastern Commonwealth. It was originally published in hardcover by Feiwel & Friends on January 3, 2012.

Synopsis Edit

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the ruthless Lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl. When Cinder becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.

Plot summary Edit

Linh Cinder is a cyborg living in New Beijing after World War IV, with her stepmother, Linh Adri, and her two stepsisters, Pearl and Peony. Cinder owns a booth in the market place, where she works as a mechanic with the family's android, Iko. While she is working, she meets Prince Kai, prince of the Eastern Commonwealth, who asks her to fix his android, Nainsi. After Kai leaves, the market is evacuated because a baker, Chang Sacha, has been infected with the plague letumosis.

Prince Kai's father, Emperor Rikan, is currently sick with letumosis, otherwise known as the Blue Fever, a plague that is terrorizing the Commonwealth. There have been no plague survivors.

While in the junkyard looking for a new mag belt for Adri's hover, Cinder, Iko, and Peony discover an old fashioned car, which Cinder plans to take home and repair. At the same time, Peony contracts the plague, and is taken away. When Cinder returns home, Adri is in grief and infuriated, blaming Cinder for her daughter's imminent death, thinking that even though Cinder doesn't have the plague, she must have passed it from Sacha to Peony. She has Cinder taken to the palace against her will for letumosis research. Cinder puts up a fight with the med-droids, managing to take out two med-droids, but is tasered by a third droid and is taken away unconscious.

Dr. Erland, a researcher in the palace, draws Cinder's blood, and when Cinder awakens, opens up her control panel and scans her, revealing that she is 36.28% not human. The doctor injects her with tagged letumosis pathogens and waits for them to take effect so he can give her an antidote. But after several minutes, Cinder's immune system kicks in, and the pathogens disappear.

After drawing another blood sample, the doctor moves her to another lab, and comes to talk to her in person, instead of over an intercom like before. Cinder tries to attack him with a wrench hidden in her metal calf, but the doctor makes her feel tired and safe, and persuades her not to. Erland tells her that she is actually immune to the plague, and questions her about her childhood. Cinder decides to tell him the truth and says that she was told she was in a hover crash that killed her parents when she was eleven, and was given a control panel, a metal hand, and a metal foot to replace her real limbs that she lost, and that she does not remember anything before her surgery. Cinder was later taken to the Eastern Commonwealth by Linh Garan, her new guardian, who died a few days after adopting her from the plague.

Kai, discouraged by his father's condition, walks down to Dr. Erland's lab, but runs into Sybil Mira in the elevator. Sybil is the head thaumaturge of Queen Levana, who rules over the Lunars on the moon, and is on Earth to discuss an alliance between Luna and the Commonwealth. Kai discusses Princess Selene, Queen Levana's niece and the only heir to the Lunar Crown with his adviser Konn Torin after she leaves. Selene died in a fire when she was three, but there are many theories speculating that she is hiding on Earth, since the only body parts found were her foot and hand. Kai wants to find Selene and put her on the throne instead of Levana, but Torin tells him that Selene is dead, and puts the theories out of his mind

Dr. Erland asks to do a small experiment on Cinder and she agrees. Erland pinches the vertebrae above her shoulders and does something, which knocks her unconscious. Cinder wakes up to see Dr. Erland and Prince Kai over her. She is fine and Kai helps her stand, asking what happened to her. Dr. Erland lies and tells Kai that he was just adjusting her spine and that the reason she is at the palace is that she was repairing a med-droid. Cinder leaves the palace after promising to comm Kai once she fixes Nainsi, and that she'd be back tomorrow to help Dr. Erland. Cinder walks back to Adri's apartment, argues with Adri, and reunites with Iko. Cinder makes a plan to use the car she and Peony found to leave New Beijing.

During the night, Emperor Rikan dies. Minutes after his death, Kai receives a comm from Queen Levana who tells him that she herself will be coming down to the Commonwealth to discuss an alliance with him, but finishes the message before Kai can protest.

That morning, Cinder is awoken with a comm that informs her that Peony has entered the third stage of letumosis. Cinder goes to visit her in the quarantines, giving her a blanket and promising to find an antidote. On her way out of the quarantine, she encounters Chang Sacha, whom she makes a promise with to bring her son, Chang Sunto, to her, but dies shortly afterward. A med-droid wheels up to Sacha's bed, taking out a scalpel and cutting into Sacha's wrist. Cinder asks the droid what it's doing, and it replies that it is taking out Sacha's ID chip.

At the palace, Cinder meets Kai in the halls and walks with him down to the lab. Kai tells her that the Lunar Queen is coming to Earth, and asks her to the annual ball. Shocked, Cinder declines, afraid he'll discover she's a cyborg. When Kai leaves, Cinder asks Dr. Erland about the med-droid who cut out Chang Sacha's ID chip. Kai does not find out that Cinder is a cyborg until the day of the ball.

Characters Edit

Main charactersEdit

Supporting charactersEdit

Title and cover Edit

The book cover features an illustration of the lower portion of a leg wearing a red stilleto, representing Linh Cinder's limb. The stilleto draws a reference to Cinderella's glass slipper. The skin of the leg is shown half-transparently, revealing the shape of a metal skeleton underneath. The partially visible metal parts signifies Cinder's cyborg traits.

The title of the book is the first name of the leading character featured in this volume, namely Linh Cinder. It is also chosen to refer to the fairytale the story of this volume is loosely based on.


Critical reception to Cinder has been mostly positive, with the Los Angeles Times calling the book "refreshing" and praising the character of Cinder. Publishers Weekly also positively reviewed the book, saying that the characters "easy to get invested in". Booklist called Cinder a "fresh spin on “Cinderella,”". The Wall Street Journal wrote that the book was an "undemanding and surprisingly good-natured read". Kidz World stated that Cinder was "an amazing story about love that comes in mysterious packages".

Kirkus Reviews wrote that the telepathic-enslaver theme was "simplistic and incongruous-feeling" but said that Cinder "offers a high coolness factor". The Horn Book Magazine wrote that Cinder's reveal was predictable but that the book's "twists and turns, complex characters, and detailed world-building to redeem itself". wrote that "while Cinder does have its flaws, it’s a solidly entertaining story, and one of the best re-imaginings of Cinderella I’ve seen in ages."

Awards and nominationsEdit

Cinder is listed in:

  • YALSA Teens' Top Ten
  • Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year
  • ABC New Voices Title
  • IRA Young Adult Choices
  • Arizona Grand Canyon Young Readers Master List
  • Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens
  • Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
  • Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award Master List
  • IL Abraham Lincoln High School Book Award Master List
  • Indiana Young Hoosier Award Master List
  • Maine Student Book Award Master List
  • Nebraska Golden Sower Award Master List
  • New York Charlotte Award Master List
  • Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award Master List
  • Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award Master List
  • TN Volunteer State Book Award Primary ML
  • Tri-State Reviews Committee Books of Note - Master List


"...Cinder is a timely and welcome re-boot of the fairytale, with Meyer changing up the rather archaic elements for a futuristic setting and a much less passive approach to the central character." - GoodReads review

"...If you love fairy tale retellings, Asian culture, or just a really good story about a cyborg who only wants to be a normal teenage girl, give this one a chance. I don't think you'll be disappointed." - GoodReads review

Foreign editionsEdit

Cinder is translated and published in the following countries:

Trivia Edit

  • Marissa Meyer's decision to make Cinder a cyborg started from a hilarious thought: the idea came to her mind that, instead of losing a shoe, Cinderella might lose a whole foot on the stairs.[citation needed]

References Edit

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